Weight: 156 pounds
Date of birth: June 15, 2000
Hometown: Parry Sound, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 1, 10th overall, 2016 Priority Selection
First there was the Little Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can.”
Then, there is Alex DeBrincat: “I know I can, I know I can.”
That was October 16, 2015 when I began my player profile on an equally small 5’7”, 160 pound Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. And we all know by now that DeBrincat is a member of an ever-growing list of smaller players finding success at the National Hockey League level. The same “I know I can, I know I can” can be applied to Owen Sound Attack forward Aidan Dudas.
I’m not suggesting that Dudas is on the same level as DeBrincat. But I do believe his offense can translate to the NHL. Currently, he has 26 goals and 29 assists in 51 games for the Attack.
Dudas played his Minor Midget hockey with the North Central Predators during the 2014-2015 season. In 31 games for the Preds, he scored 25 goals and added 26 assists and was named the league’s player of the year. He’s played in both the OHL Gold Cup (1 goals, 5 assists in 5 games) and the OHL Cup (2 assists in 4 games).
The Attack would select Dudas with the 10th overall pick at the 2016 Priority Selection.
Dudas broke into the OHL during the 2016-2017 season. He would finish the season with 8 goals and 13 assists in 56 games. He would contribute 3 goals and an assist in 17 playoff games. He also represented Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 helping Canada Black win a silver medal. At the tournament he was named an Alternate Captain and posted a goal and 4 assists in 6 games.
This season began with Dudas representing Canada once again, this time in August of 2017 at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. This time he won a Gold Medal and scored once in 5 games.
In November, Dudas was rated a C Prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list. A C prospect is considered a fourth, fifth or sixth round pick. On their mid-term rankings, Dudas was ranked 131st among North American Skaters.
Dudas was a late addition to the NHL/CHL Sherwin Williams Top Prospects Game. With the help of Central Scouting, the top 40 Canadian Hockey League players are selected to participate and Dudas did not disappoint the scouts on hand, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist to help Team Cherry win over Team Orr.
At the end of January, Dudas ranked in the top ten in goals, assists, points, faceoff percentage and shots on goal among the OHL’s draft eligible players.
Dudas doesn’t possess elite skating speed which would be a huge bonus for him because of his size. But his speed is above average. He is strong on his skates with good agility and excellent edge work. He ranked second at the NHL/CHL Sherwin Williams Top Prospects on ice testing in transition agility with the puck. With the extra work players are beginning to do with skating coaches, I have no concerns that Dudas cannot add an extra gear.
Dudas plays the game with an elevated level of energy and an undeniable work ethic. He puts that effort into use in all three zones. You will often see Dudas as the first player back on the back check with a never give up mentality.
Dudas is at his best with the puck on his stick. He has excellent puck handling skills with an ability to keep the puck out of reach of defenders. He possesses excellent vision and superb playmaking/passing skills. But he also possesses a very good shot and once he began to realize it is an effective weapon at this level, he began using it more often and climbing up the shots on goal list in the OHL. But it’s not just about firing the puck on goal. He’s getting into the danger zone for high quality chances. That in itself speaks volumes for a player of his stature.
Quite simply: He makes everyone around him a better player.
DeBrincat dropped to the second round in 2016 to the Chicago Blackhawks because of his size. Again, I am not suggesting Dudas is the first-round prospect DeBrincat was. But I do believe he has second round talent. There is no doubt in my mind that if he were 3 inches taller, that’s the position we’d be talking about with Dudas. The question everyone including yours truly is asking is can he translate to the NHL with his size?
Following the Top Prospects Game, Dudas gave a heart felt interview to Greg Cowen of the Owen Sound Times regarding his being left off the original group of players named to the roster and Central Scouting’s ranking. You can read that article here.